Greetings from the ASME Power 2010 Conference in Chicago.
A quick overview of the keynote speech:
Ed Tirello once again lit up the audience with great commentary on the status of the industry. He talked about a number of things, including what all the keynote speakers seemed to agree with: the lack of a US Energy Policy is hampering the ability of the industry to move forward. And while he did state outright that he’s “not an engineer” and tended to “make things up” (which garnered many smiles from the audience), his views bring some insights into the issues which our industry will be facing in the near future.
Richard Knoebel spoke next, providing some numbers to the CO2 sequestration issue – including some potential costs of adding carbon capture & sequestration (CCS) to new coal and gas power plants (noting in some cases it will double the capital costs of installing new generation assets).
Stephen Kuczynski stepped up next to speak of his company’s experiences with operating nuclear facilities – and some of the steps they’re taking to keep their fleet operating safely and reliably. One item I noted – was their program of promoting “assertive engineering”. In other words, if an engineer sees something that needs fixing – he/she should not let politics or the companies quarterly stock price get in the way of seeing that it gets fixed, and fixed correctly.
In light of the BP disaster, I can only imagine how many engineers were told to be quiet in light of the costs and schedule delays which would have occurred in order to do things right. In the case of nuclear power, where there have been accidents in the past, engineers – and others – are encouraged to take personal responsibility for the equipment around them, to make sure avoidable accidents don’t happen in the future. I encourage us all to apply that same confidence and assertiveness to all our projects.
The final speaker was Gregory Snyder, who covered some of the future-thinking options of integrating renewable energy and electric cars into the grid.
All the speakers provided great information that is of great interest to the industry. Thank you to ASME for bringing this group together and providing a venue for their presentations.